News and Comments Monday 19 December 2011

19.12.11    Expert says original Fiji pension scheme unsustainable
An expert who has been brought in to assist Fiji with controversial pension scheme reform says change is long overdue. Changes to Fiji National Provident Fund being made by the interim government include refunds on original sums invested, cuts in payouts and top-ups for pensioners on lower rates. Geoff Rashbrooke, a New Zealand actuary, who specialises in superannuation systems says the current scheme is not sustainable.

He says as far back as 1992 the International Labour organisation warned the dividends were set too high. “If they’d acutally made the changes 10 years ago maybe even 8 years ago they wouldn’t have needed to cut the pension, but it’s now gone on for so long that the adjustment had to be made. They’ve finally addressed something that previous boards and previous governments elected or military regimes have not been prepared to look at.”

Geoff Rashbrooke says the way the system had been operating was a transfer from the poor to the rich.

American congressman commends Fiji’s progress
American congressman Eni Faleomavaega has commended Fiji on the electoral progress towards the 2014 elections and at the same time questioned both Australia and New Zealand on their stand against Fiji. Faleomavaega says Fiji needs the support to carry out reforms which are vital to the future of the country.

He says Fiji has reached a difficult and historic moment in its development from nearly a century of British rule and decades of racial and ethnic conflict, four coups and three constitutions.Faleomavaega who is American Samoa’s delegate to the American House of Representatives highlighted Fiji’s 2012 budget for electoral reforms. He adds it will not solve Fiji’s problems if Australia, New Zealand and the US demand immediate elections and continue to place sanctions.

Fiji business leader says unions had axe to grind
The president of Fiji's Chamber of Commerce has backed the country's military government's move to deport a delegation of Australian and New Zealand trade unionists.The delegation wanted to investigate workers' rights in Fiji, which it claimed to have deteriorated under the Bainimarama regime.

The Chamber's president, Peter Mazey told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat his members would welcome visits by international trade unions, but only if they come with an open mind.

"If the ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) and the NZCTU (NZ Council of Trade Unions) want to come to Fiji, we will certainly talk to them business wise and have them talk to the workers themselves," he said. But he said the delegation had come to Fiji on the attack, which would make it difficult for the government to engage in talks with them.

"They already baited the hook with the threats of what they were going to do," he said. "At the moment, they appear to be dealing with one or two union leaders, who have obviously got themselves offside with the Government, and that's certainly something that we - from a business perspective - don't want to happen.

"It's a shame because, from a business perspective in Fiji, we certainly work with the unions all the time and I don't know any major disputes with the unions".

However ...
ACTU president, Ged Kearney denied the delegation was harbouring biases against the government. "We hadn't even said we actually disagree with them. We wanted to speak with them," she told Pacific Beat."Nevertheless, they have obviously to something to hide. They have obviously got a whole range of issues that they did not want us to be privy to or to see".

When the group arrived at Nadi airport on Tuesday, officials took their phones and passports and sent them back to Australia. "This is a military dictatorship that, simply because you disagree with them, they have a right to turn you around and send you away," she said.

She said she was more determined than ever to expose abuses of the country' workers' rights after her union officials were turned away.

Comment: I find Ms Kearney's denials hard to swallow.  The ACTU had on several occasions declared its anti-Fiji Government stance, and her comments following her eviction ("more determined then ever...") show her mind was, indeed, already made up before she left Australia.
Australian Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd's comment that Fiji's Government had missed an opportunity to show it was not afraid of international scrutiny is in line with all his previous statements on Fiji.  Surely he'snot also claiming his mind  in not made up.


Anonymous said…
Ged Kearney and his troupe, if they are people with conscience and people of integrity and courage, they should go to China where there is gross abuse of workers rights and violation of human rights. For them and the Australian Government Fiji is seen as an easy target. Shame on Kevin Rudd who thought that this group of noisy unionists would achieve what he and his government could not. It is not the size of the dog but the size of the fight in the dog that matters. Fiji has learnt to stand on its own feet and is more stable then the Australian Govt, as Kevin Rudd to oust Gillard who was once his deputy PM. Fiji did make it clear that these Aussie unionists would not be allowed into the country and yet they showed no respect to its decision and arrived, ignoring the Fijian govt stance. They should have been detained taken to the Queen Elizabeth Barracks for a few laps around the rugby field so that they learn to respect the sovereignty of Fiji. Still I say, they should go to China or even try India where slave-like conditions exist, including child labour.

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